Heat pump distance rules set to be scrapped

Autumn Statement looks to free up planning regime for green infrastructure

The government has pledged to investigate scrapping rules that stipulate heat pumps must be located a metre from a property boundary, but has been criticised for not taking more action to tackle energy efficiency in its Autumn Statement. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced plans to consult on introducing new permitted development rights that would end the ‘blanket restriction’ on heat pumps being one metre from a property boundary in England.

This move, which is designed to reduce delays in installing heat pumps, is part of a wider package of measures  announced to ease the planning regime for low carbon infrastructure. 

The statement outlines the government’s response to National Infrastructure Commissioner Nick Winser’s review of transmission network planning, published in August. 

And it proposes implementing the former National Grid CEO’s recommendation to offer energy bill discounts and packages of community benefits to those most affected by the construction of new transmission infrastructure. 

The government’s response to Winser’s review also kick-starts work on drawing up a spatial plan for the nation’s energy infrastructure. 

Other measures included a pledge to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to prioritise the rollout of electric vehicle chargepoints, including charging hubs. 

Josh Emden, senior research fellow at the left-of-centre IPPR thinktank, said there was ‘nothing new’ on funding for energy efficiency or clean heat, despite the UK having some of the worst housing stock in Europe. 

Juliet Phillips, senior policy adviser at E3G, said ‘major gaps’ remained in energy efficiency and clean heat policy with private renters having drawn the ‘short straw’ after the Prime Minister’s decision not to implement regulations requiring upgrades of privately rented homes.